Love Is Not Your Enemy

Posted: August 28, 2018 in Feature Blogs

“Love is an intense longing to wholly satisfy another person but understanding that you just might not be able to…”

I used to wonder how love became the enemy.

And I say that ironically, as someone who was staunchly #TeamFuckLove for decades.

What I always clung to was the scientific explanation of love. That it isn’t anything more than the overflow of hormones, such as dopamine and oxytocin, in the brain with an ensuing “hangover” as the brain attempts to resume normal function in the absence of a stimulus.

For anyone curious, that is also a layman’s summary of the effects of illicit drug use.

I realize now that I harbored this stance as a convenient and inarguable excuse to avoid taking emotional risk. “It’s not real” is a hell of a lot deeper and more intriguing than “but it hurts really really bad when it ends”. And if you’re wondering how I came to this revelation, all I had to do was look at my own relationship/dating history.

I ALWAYS gravitated towards relationships that I knew couldn’t work.

It’s not to say that I never tried to make my relationships work. I said nice things, never cheated and paid for meals. Performed necessary automotive repairs, I even replaced the convertible top on an ex’s car (never volunteer to do that fellas, let her leave). But no matter what I did to appear engaged, I now realize that all of my relationships were doomed from the start.

Even though literally all other relationships and bonds in our lives are created and maintained organically with minimal effort, we are conditioned to believe that the romantic variety are hard work and struggle. Maybe that is why we overlook glaring, unacceptable traits about someone when we start dating them. Maybe that is why we expect honeymoon-phase behavior to continue indefinitely.

Or maybe we prefer a handful of lesser heartbreaks as opposed to one gigantic one?

It seems counter-intuitive to introduce heartbreak in an attempt to avoid heartbreak. But knowing it won’t last is actually the perfect excuse to hold back, to not give your all. We are so afraid of heartbreak that we have somehow made sense of giving half-effort and blaming love for a relationship’s inevitable demise.

But have we ever REALLY given LOVE a chance?

We dwell on the ending so much that we completely overlook the experiences along the way. “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” is not just some cliché, it is sage wisdom.

I’m just a dude with great skin and a keyboard. I don’t have all of the answers. But for me, it’s difficult to live a best life if I vow to throw caution to the wind in every aspect but love’s.

We all have Facebook, we know at least 100 people that don’t venture out of their 10-sq.mile lives and wonder why they haven’t found their soulmates. Thanks to Walt Disney and rampant parental dishonesty, we have been conditioned to believe that merely existing entitles us to unconditional, everlasting love. Then, there are those that put minimal effort into people that they know won’t work out (hello, my name is William) and even some who put maximal effort into toxic people.

The fact is: love is a privilege.

It comes easier to some than it does to others. As with all other privilege, it’s not always valued and responsibility is carried with it. Some people really believe they were put on this earth to be celebrated. And some people are born into cultures where they have no say with whom they get to live their lives with.

Love is a skill. It’s extracting lessons and becoming empowered by previous experiences rather than handicapped by them. We emotionally limp into new relationships all of the time, never bothering to consider the impact on not just the other person but ourselves. A broken leg on Team 1 is still a broken leg on TEAM 2 without sufficient time to heal. It perplexes me when people proceed as if the next person isn’t worthy of our best selves. I get that acceptance of “who we are” is fundamental but I’ve never interpreted that as an excuse to stop bettering myself.

Love is communication. It’s not to say that everyone has to be a wordsmith of my caliber (I mean…you see where it has gotten me). But if you don’t articulate well then it is CRITICAL to find someone who speaks your love language fluently.

I am fortunate to be able to interpret actions AND contextualize them as well. Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I study people. It might come natural to me but I can assure you: anyone can develop this by simply processing one’s actions and NOT REACTING immediately. Contextualization will occur when you can ask yourself why YOU would maybe do the same thing…and then asking yourself if that logic is consistent with their behavior.

Love is an intense longing to wholly satisfy another person but understanding that you just might not be able to.

Love is being at peace with the reality that loving might be its only reward. Reciprocation is NEVER guaranteed. A good place to start would be to throw genuine, unwavering support behind someone you believe in and could use it. Worst case scenario is that you positively changed a life! But if it’s NOT genuine, then the support won’t last and/or you will become a weight on that person. Love is NEVER setting someone back.

Some say “love is pain”. Eh, maybe, I don’t know. I agree that EGO is pain. But the times I have loved, there were no ego and the pain was insignificant compared to the good stuff that preceded it. Pain for pain’s sake won’t get us any closer to love, nor does it prepare us for its fallout. I feel like using pain as an indication of love is rather short-sighted and only further perpetuates the “Love Is The Enemy” narrative.

I don’t believe that love is fleeting. However, there is no denying that love is wrought with risk. At the end of the day, you ARE investing emotionally into someone that you have virtually no control over.

And the older I get, the more beauty I find in that.

Humans are emotional and insecure; there is no muting those facts. Our fears consciously and subconsciously dictate what we are comfortable and familiar with, more so than what we THINK we want. This is why we can grow up with parents that we despise and wind up in relationships with people just like them. It’s also why we can find an ideal mate and run away because we are inexperienced with how to interact with them.

These fears and insecurities can drive us to take solace in ‘titles’.

Titles and other manmade relationship constructs seem like they were born out of a need to acquire some of that control. Somehow, the titles bring comfort. Whether it’s “okay, I have someone, I can relax” or “I’m their significant other and they’re not allowed to be with anyone else now”, or something of the sort.

But anyone who has ever been cheated on knows that a title doesn’t automatically beget faithfulness and loyalty.

I understand that relationships existed long before verbal communication and that titles are supposed to merely describe the interaction. But titles for some people have devolved into validation and codes of ethics.

I’m not anti-title by any means. But I’ve learned to see through them.

Maybe it makes a little more sense to me because I’ve had practice. Almost 16 years ago now, a two-year old girl (pictured with me) came into my life via someone I had just met and was casually dating at the time. The little girl bonded to me so quickly that I backed off of her mom altogether and decided to focus on being a father figure for her. She kept me alive by giving me purpose and I never wanted to make her sorry that she chose me to lead her.

Few people will ever know what that journey was like though; to invest all of your emotional energy into a child that you have no rights to. I wasn’t her dad. I wasn’t an uncle. Not even an in-law. I was a complete stranger vowing to never turn my back on a TODDLER. I had LITERALLY NOTHING that entitled me to her. I lived with the threat of her mom finding someone who wasn’t supportive of me being around. I lived with the guilt of possibly deterring men from getting involved with her mother. I lived with the accusations that I was using her to keep close to her mother. I lived with the guilt of confusing the shit out of her by being around. I lived with the guilt of being a roadblock between her and her biological father if he tried to re-enter her life. I lived with the fear that she would grow up and decide she didn’t want me around after all of my effort. I even had to endure the obvious suspicion “why else would a grown, single non-relative be so involved with a child?”

I’ve answered “why do you even care?” and “why not just have a child of your own?” literally thousands of times each. I’ve sat through lecture after lecture of how much more awesome it would be to bond with a child of my own. As if they could fathom a bond built on sacrifice and faith rather than DNA.

But 16 years later, love won, as it always does. As a senior in high school, she is a member of the National Honor Society and really one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever known. And I had the privilege of helping nurture both of those things. If history holds true, she is going to run out of time for me and anyone else that raised her but all of my uncertainty, fear, self-doubt, pain and all-around hard times gave her a quality of life that she acknowledges wouldn’t have happened without me AND SHE’S GRATEFUL FOR IT. A teenager, folks.

And she has never once had to call me “dad”.

As I age, I feel like one of my biggest regrets is not realizing that I had created a blueprint for loving sooner. Applying this approach to my early love life would have lessened a lot of the emotional blow throughout my 20’s. But it’s one of those ‘better late than never’ type things and I’m not wasting any more of my years avoiding something that, frankly, I’m really good at. I’ll take the heartbreak with a side of A1 Sauce if my love can be someone else’s x-factor.

I THINK my point in all of this is to say stop holding back. Holding back doesn’t exempt us from heartbreak; it only exempts us from genuine connection. Earlier I mentioned how love’s effect on the brain is identical to that of illicit drugs, but love’s effect on OTHERS is entirely different and incomparable.

Take the training wheels off of your hearts, y’all…it’s time to ride.

Twitter: @BBQx_

Instagram: @bbqx

Website: bbqx.net

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  1. […] Love Is Not Your Enemy […]

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